It was almost exactly a decade ago that the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. Back then, Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis led the charge, finishing first and second respectively in the Lightning’s playoff scoring race.
Richards and St. Louis haven’t played in the final round since that series. A lot has happened and their uniforms have changed, but the New York Rangers duo is hoping that the ending will be the same.
“Never would have thought we’d be here today, in New York, doing it,” Richards said, per the Bergen Record. “Even to start the season, I never imagined Marty being here.”
St. Louis, who was acquired by the Rangers at the trade deadline, is one of the big reasons they’ve gotten this far. He went on a six-game point streak from May 11-25 as the Rangers dug themselves out of a hole against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round and then gained the upper hand versus Montreal in the Eastern Conference Final.
During that stretch, St. Louis scored the overtime winner against Montreal in Game 4 to give the Rangers a commanding 3-1 series lead that the Canadiens were unable to recover from.
When the 2013-14 campaign started, Richards and St. Louis didn’t have many playoff games under their belts. This time around, they will serve as the voices of experience on a Rangers’ club that hasn’t won a championship since 1994.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.